Nu Deco Ensemble Puts a Fresh Spin on Classical Music

"Our mission is to create innovative concert experiences," Sam Hyken explains. He, along with Jacomo Bairos, created the Nu Deco Ensemble in July 2014. It's what Hyken dubs "a 21st-century chamber orchestra." And the 22-member group will have its second round of performances this Friday and Saturday at the Light Box in Wynwood

Nu Deco Ensemble's origins go back to 2004, when Hyken and Bairos met as members of the Singapore Symphony. Hyken played the trumpet, and Bairos manned the tuba. "We bonded on a musical and personal level right when we met," Bairos remembers. "We had an American sensibility toward the music we like. We both went to Juilliard, and we both had similar ideas of what the future of classical music could look like."

The two produced a classical radio show in Singapore, but it wasn't until Hyken landed a job playing trumpet for New World Symphony that their dreams would come to fruition.

Having grown up in South Florida, attending Homestead Middle School and Homestead Senior High, Bairos offered Hyken some advice before he took off to Miami. "I told Sam to immerse himself in that place."

Hyken listened. While he played trumpet with New World Symphony from 2006 to 2009, he gave lectures within the community to share his love of classical music and eventually decided to study for a master's degree from University of Miami. Meanwhile, Bairos took a break from the tuba and dove into conducting, eventually working his way back to South Florida as well.

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Last year, they recruited some local classical musicians and formed the Nu Deco Ensemble. The program they conceived for this weekend is broken into two halves. The first half will feature the ensemble performing new music from living American composers such as Clint Needham and Marc Mellits. "The first piece, 'Urban Sprawl,' transcends the sound of what a city can be. We consider this orchestra genre-bending, and we start off with the unique sound of all these new cultures popping up," Bairos says.

The second half of the evening will have a Miami edge, showcasing classical interpretations of indie favorites like LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk. The ensemble will perform with local singer-songwriter Brika.

With future performances planned at the Light Box, Deering Estate, North Beach Bandshell, and New World Center in the coming months, the two say the Nu Deco Ensemble is creating what they set out to do when they met in Singapore more than a decade ago. Bairos is especially pleased with one fan's critique. "They said we're representing today's music lovers."

Nu Deco Ensemble 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26, at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami; 305-576-4350; miamilightproject.com. General-admission tickets costs $30 plus fees and VIP tickets cost $80 plus fees via eventbrite.com.

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